Book Bingo 2019 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. Each Saturday, on a fortnightly basis, beginning on Saturday 5th January 2019, Ashleigh, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2019 card contains a total of 30 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by the end of December. Two of the Book Bingo entries this year will be flexible, so that means it is completely down us as to when we post these entries, to ensure all 30 are ticked off by the end of the year. Do keep an eye out on our respective blog sites for our bonus round entries! To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! However, as Ashleigh, Theresa and I enjoy similar books, especially books by Australian women writers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we end up with more than one book double up, as was the case in 2018! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.
There were 54 victims before this. Who is number 55? A thriller with a killer hook, and an ending that will make you gasp!
Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.
All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.
He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.
Heath is a serial killer.
As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.
Gabriel is the serial killer.
Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?
James Delargy has written one of the most exciting debuts of 2019. He masterfully paints the picture of a remote Western Australian town and its people, swallowed whole by the hunt for a serial killer.
Thanks to The Dry by Jane Harper and one of my personal favourite crime fiction books of last year, Scrublands by Chris Hammer, Australian rural based crime fiction is really getting the star treatment. Emerging author James Delargy brings us 55, a crime based serial killer novel set in the heart of the outback. It is a book where the lines of truth, lies and reality are completely blurred and it certainly made for a gripping read.
Billed as an outback thriller and a cross between The Dry and Wolf Creek, 55 opens in the tiny township of Wilbrook, in remote Western Australia. Surrounded by vast landscape as far as the eye can see, this quiet little town has seen very little by the way of the crime, only the occasional domestic dispute or speeding fine. Chandler Jenkins is the chief police sergeant, in charge of maintaining peace and order in Wilbrook. On yet another relentlessly hot day, a stranger arrives on the doorstep of the Wilbrook police station. The man is hurt and clearly distressed. The stranger says his name is Gabriel and he reels off a story about being abducted, drugged and held against his will by a man named Heath. The final nail in the coffin is that Gabriel was told by his captor that he is victim number 55. Just as Chandler begins to co-ordinate a search to find Gabriel’s captor and a possible serial killer, the very man himself walks into the station. Again, the same story as Gabriel’s is relayed, only this time Heath names Gabriel as his captor. It is up to Chandler and his team to figure out which one of these two men are telling that truth and where are the 54 other victims?
This debut novel has a fantastic and thrilling hook, the pace was exhilarating, the characterisation full bodied, the atmosphere tension filled and the setting was incredibly vivid. Splitting the novel between two time frames provided the reader with a two for one style deal crime wise. Charged with solving a crime in the past (2002) and the present day, 55 will keep you in its sights. Plenty of dead ends, red herrings and plot diversions are served, ensuring the reader must stay on track throughout the whole novel.
I was ready to award 55 a big whopping five star rating. I love my Australian crime books and 55 really did take the cake for one of the best crime novels I have read this year (Candice Fox and Jane Harper’s books aside). I was completely impressed by 55, especially the highly original narrative concept and I was keen to explore the possibility of an outback killer who may have murdered 54 victims. It is a gruesome thought but definitely a hooking premise. However, and I do emphasise the however, there is a big shock in store for the reader during the final moments of this book. It was a huge letdown after all I had invested in this book and how much I almost loved it! I even went back to check to see that in my speed read state of mind I may have missed the big reveal. Sadly I didn’t and it did lead me to wonder if perhaps the author is toying with the idea of a sequel, or even a series spin off. I do know screen rights have been acquired, but I was disappointed!
Astute, original, addictive and mesmerising, reach for 55 by James Delargy if you have a weakness for outback crime fiction, which is a gaining so much momentum here and across the globe.
**** 4 stars
55 by James Delargy was published on 1st May 2019 by Simon & Schuster. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of 55, James Delargy, visit here.